Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tree of the Week: Parsley Hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii)

The parsley hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii) is in bloom this week. From a distance, this is unquestionably a good thing. The senior tree in the arboretum collection has a nice shape, interesting bark and is covered in white flowers. Visually, the parsley hawthorn is pleasing. 
This individual is from Akin's Nursery, planted in the winter of 1996, on the slope down from the Ratcliff Gazebo.

Flower clusters cover the tree.
Flower detail
Bark detail
The parsley hawthorn is olfactorily displeasing; it is distinctly malodorous. These cute white flowers produce an undesirable odor to attract its preferred pollinators, flies. Some flowers smell good, others don't. What attracts the fly often repels the human. In any case, the parsley hawthorn stimulates the senses.

You can see additional photos of this specimen here

For more information about this species consult the following:
United States Department of Agriculture
University of Florida IFAS

Monday, March 20, 2017

What's in Bloom?

It's the first day of spring. Trees are blooming. Vines are blooming. Wildflowers are blooming. Flowers are easy to find this time of year. Some flowers are large and hard to miss, attracting the eye with brilliant hues. Other flowers are subtle, small and white. And other flowers don't look like flowers at all; they look like 'weeds'. Below we have a small selection of the great variety of plants in bloom.
The red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) is still in bloom, with even more flowers this week. The red flowers contrast with the green foliage, forcing us to notice them.
The bees notice them, too
In contrast to the red buckeye, the silverbell (Halesia diptera) produces a small, inconspicuous flower. We used a clipboard for a backdrop to more easily see the flowers.
Looking up, the silverbell flowers are more obvious.
The crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) produces red-orange flowers, in the shape of a trumpet.
Even though they are brilliantly colored, crossvine flowers are easy to miss because the vine climbs up high. This vine has grown happily with a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda).
This is the first iris bloom of the season in the arboretum. This particular plant (Iris fulva) is a volunteer, growing in a drier spot than it should be, suggesting that the sprinklers have been doing a good job in this part of the arboretum.
Iris fulva detail
Additional Louisiana irises have opened up in the wetland.
Senecio glabellus is one of those 'weedy' looking wildflowers. It grows happily in wet areas. The flower smells like honey.
We are holding off on mowing the grass in the arboretum because of plants like the daisy fleabane (Erigeron sp.). They are truly wild, growing wherever they please. There are several healthy patches in the arboretum. And, like the Senecio, they have a pleasant smell. Enjoy them while you can!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tree of the Week: Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

The flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a beautiful native tree. Its high ornamental value leads to frequent plantings in our local landscape. In autumn, the tree stands out for its red leaves and fruit, but this time of year, the flowers draw our attention. The blossoms are very showy around Easter. This species has cultural significance in the southeast, reminding some local Christians of the crucifixion of Jesus.

From the very beginning of the Arboretum's history, the flowering dogwood has been a 'must have' for the collection. Ed Leuck collected and planted over 10 individuals. Some were bought as small trees, others were collected as seedlings. Unfortunately, the flowering dogwood has proven to be very difficult to maintain here on the Centenary campus. Today we are left with one healthy tree. This individual was provided by Jack Price in 1993. It was collected as a seedling, nurtured in a pot for several years, and planted in the ground in 1996. It grows towards the top of a steep slope.

Our one remaining flowering dogwood is located near the Ratcliff Gazebo, with the steeple of Brown Chapel in the background.

The tree is doing well, producing a multitude of blooms.
Individual blossom with guest.

Detail of flower

You can see additional photos of the arboretum's flowering dogwood here. The flowering dogwood in this photo perished in the 2011 drought.

For more information about this species consult the following:
United States Department of Agriculture
University of Florida IFAS 
University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture

Friday, March 10, 2017

What's in Bloom?

A variety of trees, vines, and herbaceous plants have been blooming for several weeks now. The redbuds, mayhaws, and Mexican plums have put on a great show this year in the arboretum. Other species, like spiderwort and daisy fleabane, have just started to bloom, while the Louisiana irises have barely begun to produce flower stalks. A few of the arboretum's offerings are highlighted below.
The brilliant white flowers of the Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana) have turned a pale white, tinged with pink.
This is a successful bunch of Atamasco Lily (Zephyranthes atamasco) growing under a cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia).

Flower bud of the coral honeysuckle vine (Lonicera sempervirens)

The coral honeysuckle grows with the oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).

Flowers of the wild crabapple tree (Malus angustifolia) are very fragrant.

Dewberry (Rubus trivialis) is prolific in the arboretum. It desires to take over, but we allow it only a few patches in which to thrive. This patch is located under a flowering magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), near the fitness center.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

The Green-and-Gold plant (Chrysogonum virginianum) grows low to the ground and spreads out, producing bright yellow flowers. This patch grows under the smooth sumac (Rhus glabra).

The blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) is beautiful and fragrant.

A healthy patch of Trillium

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tree of the Week: The Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

Today we're excited to introduce a new program for the arboretum, Tree of the Week. Our goal is to showcase trees native to the southeast, noting their special characteristics as the seasons change. Some trees are known particularly for their flowers, and so we begin with the red buckeye.

 Tree of the Week: The Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

Although its rich green foliage can be appreciated during the spring and summer, the best time to view this plant is during late winter and earliest spring, when it is flowering. The following photos were taken during the latter part of an exceptionally mild (warm) winter.

The arboretum's original specimens were grown from seeds collected by Ed Leuck at two locations. The first seeds were collected in 1986, at the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve in Bienville Parish. In 1991, he collected additional seeds from Albany Avenue in Shreveport, adding the seedlings in with the original specimens. This copse is doing well today, producing many beautiful blooms. Seedlings from this group have popped up all over the arboretum.

Original specimens
4-year-old volunteer

You can see additional photos of the arboretum's red buckeyes here.

For more information about this species consult the following:
United States Department of Agriculture
University of Florida IFAS 
University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture